Judge dismisses Lakewood Hospital lawsuit over controversial closing


(Plain Dealer file photo)
 

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A judge dismissed a lawsuit filed nearly two years ago challenging city officials for the closure of Lakewood Hospital.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph P. O’Donnell, in an order signed July 11, dismissed the complaint filed by five Lakewood residents, one who works at Lakewood Hospital. 

The judge ruled that he could not affirmed any of the plaintiffs’ complaints outlined in an August 15, 2015 lawsuit and subsequent court filings, according to the opinion.

Plaintiffs Edward Graham, Marguerite Harkness, William Grulich, Deborah Meckes and Amy Dilzell alleged in their suit that the Cleveland Clinic Foundation illegally breached a lease with the city, and the city — defined in the opinion as Mayor Michael Summers — failed to represent residents’ best interests when it shuttered the hospital. 

“Such an order would be impossible to enforce because it could never contain an unambiguous statement of what is, and is not, in the city’s interest,” O’Donnell wrote in the opinion.

Graham, in an interview with cleveland.com Tuesday, said the plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling. When asked what he hoped to get out of the case, his answer was to reopen the hospital. 

Summers, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby Cosgrove, the Lakewood Hospital Foundation and president Kenneth Haber, and the Lakewood Hospital Association and its chairman Thomas Gable are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.  

O’Donnell also determined in his order that any accused harm wouldn’t be to individual taxpayers, but to the city as a whole. This means the plaintiffs wouldn’t have the right to sue individually. 

The plaintiffs asked Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler to file suit on behalf of the city in April of 2015, but he declined, according to the opinion.

Read the full opinion in the document viewer below. 

Lakewood City Council debated for months over whether to close the hospital and replace it with a Cleveland Clinic family health center and emergency department. The council voted to close it in December 2015. 

A resolution to repeal the vote failed in November of 2016. The Cleveland Clinic, amid protests, broke ground on the new facility in April.

The new 62,000-square-foot, $34 million project will be at the southwest corner of Detroit and Belle avenues, on the site of a former medical office building.

The city recently narrowed a search down to two developers to revamp the six-acre former site of the hospital. The finalists both have timelines set to finish in 2020.

Read more: See potential plans for Lakewood Hospital site redesign, including 18-story high rise

Butler, in a July 2016 meeting, said the city spent more than $125,000 defending this lawsuit. 

Butler was not available for comment Tuesday. 



Source link